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Taking the Kids: Let's hear it for moms everywhere (grandmas, too!)

By Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

I'll admit it. Sometimes, when my kids were small, work was a welcome respite from the never-ending chaos at home -- and I had a pretty stressful job as a reporter for a big city newspaper.

One of my now adult kids reminded me the other day of all the times she would interrupt me when I was trying to make phone calls from home. "And you never told me to stop," she said.

That was, of course, before Zoom made every home interaction instantly visible to work colleagues and at a time "face time" meant you were at your desk in an office where bosses could see you. Bosses never believed you were really "working from home."

Now, of course, most of us not only have to work from home -- if we still have jobs -- but the pandemic has required working parents take over day care and home-schooling without help or without a break. Except for first responders and healthcare workers who literally put their lives on the line when they go to work, afraid they will get sick as so many have from treating COVID-19 patients.

If there ever was a time to thank moms for all they do (dad you'll get your turn in June) it's this year, as we celebrated the strangest Mother's Day ever -- no fancy brunches, multigenerational gatherings, last-minute gifts or surprise visits from grown kids.

Mother's Day, incidentally, was first promoted as a way for women to promote global unity after the horrors of the U.S. Civil War and Europe's Franco-Prussian War. The holiday didn't really gain traction until the early years of the 20th century when a woman named Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother, a peace activist who had cared for Civil War soldiers from both sides, and began a campaign for a holiday to honor all mothers. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson designated the second Sunday in May as the official Mother's Day.


Jarvis later bemoaned how commercial Mother's Day had become. Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported, that commercialism added up to some $26 billion being spent. Likely that won't be the case this year with so much of the economy shut down.

This year, consider a different way to honor the moms, grandmas and other mother figures in your life, whatever your budget. Encourage the children who love you (whatever their ages) to make a donation in mom's name to the American Red Cross or another cause that can help those so impacted by the financial fallout from the pandemic. A number of highly rated charities have created funds to support communities around the world affected by the outbreak, according to Charity Navigator. Every donation counts.

The travel and hospitality industry has been especially hard hit with the potential loss of 4.6 million travel-related jobs, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Ordering takeout for mom from her favorite restaurant will be a welcome gift -- and will help those trying to keep restaurants afloat.

Consider all of the people -- the hotel housekeepers, the restaurant servers, the chefs, bartenders the kids' club staffs and cruise ship stewards, the destination wedding planners, those who work at theme parks, airport workers -- who work so hard to make your hard-earned vacations happy. Think of all the people you have met who depend on your tourist dollars to raise their families in Orlando and Cape Cod, Colorado, California and Alaska. No one knows how long they will be out of work -- or if there will even be jobs when this is over.


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